Pat Fitzgerald Quotes

Opening Statement

“First of all I want to tip my hat to Mike Riley. He's a pro's pro, a coach's coach and a great friend. As I said to him after the game, I've got so much respect for Mike and the way he carries himself, and the way that he's always run his programs. We knew today was going to be a hard-fought battle. Those Cornhuskers have been through so many tough games this year, gut-wrenchers. They probably feel the same way today after the way today's went. So I tip my hat to Mike and his young men. To talk about our guys, I'm just really proud of the resilience. We didn't necessarily play great at all early, but we stuck together and found a way to make some plays there in the first half and make it a game. Then in the second half we made big plays offensively, and the field position battle I felt we won pretty decisively and then on top of that, our defense made some big stops down the stretch. They were on the field for way too long. To see the way those guys rose up on defense was absolutely terrific. A great team win, a huge team win to get us over the hump to get to six and get to the postseason. But we just talked about that in the locker room, six is not the destination. We didn't talk in camp about let's get to six wins. I'm proud of the way the guys fought and I'm proud of their resiliency. So now we've got to wrap up midterms and get some rest. We need it, and then get ready to go for November."

On quarterback Clayton Thorson's scrambles

"That's the great thing about college football, the quarterbacks are a factor good, bad or indifferent. They are a factor with their legs and their arms and both Tommy (Armstrong Jr.) and Clayton made big plays today. I'm really proud of Clayton. It wasn't going the way we wanted it to be going throwing the football early, but he stayed the course and he made some huge plays with his legs and settled down and really started to take what the defense was giving him in the second half. That was really the difference in the game."


On Northwestern getting its mojo back after this win

"I don't know if we lost our mojo. I hate to disappoint bloggers, but our guys don't listen to them. It's just the way the world is today, you win five games and everyone tells you how great you are and really you watch the tape, and I said it, we are not that good. I didn't want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy obviously, but for two weeks we played two really good football teams. That's going to happen when you get into conference play and you just have to keep swinging and battling. It's the world you live in, and you've got to shut the noise off and I think the kids did a good job with that and they stayed the course. We've got a big month ahead of us, but to get over the hump and get postseason eligibility was huge for our program and a step in the right direction. We couldn't do it without the great support we have at every level. Best A.D. in the country, best President in the country. Our band came out here today. That was awesome. Those kids traveling 10 hours on a bus. It was unbelievable, and I appreciate all those fans that were with us. Big, big team win today."


On Maliek Collins' late hit on the last drive

"That's really uncharacteristic of their team. I don't know what happened. I didn't see it, and you hate to see that happen for a young man. It's a competitive game played by competitive guys and maybe he just lost his cool."


On the two-point conversion stop

"We had pretty solid coverage and we forced Tommy to come back to his last choice in the progression on his back side. That was great discipline, and we were very fortunate. They had been pretty successful on two-point conversions coming into this game. To get that was huge."


On the game plan for Tommy Armstrong Jr.

"We tried to change some things up pre-snap and post-snap, but we do that every week though. I don't think it was anything new for Tommy. The plan that we didn't execute very well was that we needed to keep him between the tackles, but that obviously was not very good today. I'm disappointed with that. We didn't give up that explosive scramble touchdown that when you look at their explosive play tape, that's why I stayed up all week. His ability to keep plays alive and make explosive plays with his arm is deadly, and I think for the most part we were able to keep that to a minimum.


On the close nature of the games between Northwestern and Nebraska

"I'll go back to when it was with Bo (Pelini) and he and I are really close. Since I've played Nebraska they've played the game the right way. It's tough, physical and they play as a team, all three phases are well-coached. Fast forward to Mike (Riley) and it was the same thing. You look at them on tape and there were some little differences just because staffs are different. Excellent personnel, great talent and this is a huge, huge home field advantage. To come in here really the last three times and be within a (Jordan) Westerkamp ridiculous catch, we are very fortunate. I'm just really proud of our guys. I thought they battled and fought. And with our staff, I thought they did a great job and put together a good plan. We had to adjust at halftime, and I thought we did."